20120320

WorkWorkWork

Sorry for my lack of posts lately - work is a bit hectic, but things are coming along great, and I'm excited for this film!

In the meantime, here are some neat handmade bike racks that you can oogle.  

20120316

More Anger Regarding the Spring Street Bike Lanes

I guess this is still a big issue.

Filmmakers are against the Spring Street bike lanes because they can no longer use Spring Street as "Anytown, USA" - sorry, but why can't Anytown have bike lanes again?  Is it taboo to show infrastructure as promoting human safety?  Also, the cost and difficulty of editing out these troublesome green lanes is not nearly as bad as it's being made out to be.  And hey, since studios are outsourcing all the VFX work anyway, I think they should have to pay the extra that it costs to film in LA and have all compositing done offshore.  Or maybe they're just upset that they lost all of their parking, something that the residents of Spring Street seem to have no problem with.  By all accounts I've heard, people prefer the cyclists to film trucks. 

Also - motorists are "baffled" that they can't drive in the bike lanes?  Are you f***ing kidding me?  When has it ever been legal to drive or park in any bike lane?  Not that it's enforced here anyway, so I don't see what the real problem is, but I am so sorry that you're baffled about the bike lanes. 

If these lanes get removed, you can bet there will be a fair amount of Angelenos up in arms about it.  It would be a sorry excuse to sacrifice safety in lieu of shooting some film.

On the bright side though, BikingInLA featured an awesome Trade-Your-Car-For-A-Bike program that the Santa Monica Mountains Cyclery is doing.  I'm tempted...

20120314

On Rules

On the mornings when I hate myself for having to drive to work, there is a cluster of four way intersections that become complete and total chaos on weekdays, due to school, small children, dogs, strollers, and incompetent drivers.  Those hellish seconds spent near those intersections trying to figure out if the small child on the BMX bike is going to make a mad dash for it across the street while the driver who has the right of way is far too busy putting on makeup to pay attention to the road are usually one of the worst parts of the days I drive.  

Today was especially spectacular though.  Today, while at hellintersection with eight other cars and families trying to cross, a fully kitted out roadie blew through the stop sign, almost hitting a child who was crossing as well as almost getting hit by two cars himself. Obscenities were shouted, roadie ignored everyone and blew the light at the next intersection to continue on his merry way. 

Now, I'm already bitter because I had to drive today, but this has put me completely over the edge.  

There are those of us out there who are advocating for cyclists' rights, who peacefully try to explain to other drivers why it's okay to take the lane, who obey all traffic rules in hopes that it will make motorists respect us more.  And then there are people like this ass-wagon who blows a sign thinking he's better than everyone else, making everyone who sees him lose respect for all bicyclists in one fell swoop.

On the rare times I manage to be able to talk to a cyclist that does this, it seems like my words fall on deaf ears.  I've tried passing them and blatantly stopping at all signs and lights in front of them, only to pass them again, but that too just seems to piss them off.  And this is only when I'm on a bike - when I'm driving, forget it.  They don't want to hear it.  And it doesn't matter if it's a roadie or some kid who doesn't know any better.

What does it take to make people care?  To make people stop and listen?  I hear cyclists cry foul at police who target stop sign runners, saying there are more dangerous motorists out there who deserve the tickets more than they do.  Perhaps this is true, but I for one am sick and tired of playing by the rules and slowly gaining respect only to have one douchebag ruin it for everyone.   Like the time I was hit because I'm fairly certain the motorist was taking it out on me in lieu of another cyclist that cut him off and was running all the signs.

Granted, it's never going to be perfect, but I'm sick of the stop sign runners, salmoners and  light blowers crying for bicycle rights when they're doing nothing to help the situation.

If we want rights, we have to play by the rules.  

20120312

Sadness

A few months prior, I acquired a legendary track bike of Soviet fame.  I've mentioned Takhions on here before, and I've also gone off on tangents about how I love weird things, so naturally I discovered these crazy bikes existed and sought to find one.  And after months of searching, I did.

Behold.
You're probably looking at this thinking "Wow, that looks uncomfortable/dangerous/awkward/painful," but when I got to do a test ride on it back in November, I have to say it was equally as much fun to ride as my Trek District, which I rate somewhere around sushi from Sugarfish on my scale of awesomeness. 

As these particular bikes were ridden in the Olympics, they were made to be good for a season.  This bike in particular is a Takhion Temp, and the only one I've ever seen - most are Aeros or Super Sports.  When it came to me, it was clear it had been loved, and ridden quite a bit during its 21 years in existence.  After getting a crankset and bottom bracket and throwing an old Campy seatpost I had lying around on it, a friend of mine threw an amazingly hipster wheelset on it and we took it for a test ride...after which we discovered that the areas where the handlebar attachments are brazed on had cracked.  

These things.


I wasn't too worried, as any welder can do some magic when it comes to Columbus tubing, so I took it back to the shop to have a welder friend of theirs take a look at it.  And guess what?

It's cast iron.  

So it can be fixed, but it will break again.  At this point, I'm pretty bummed because I was hoping to ride this beast around a velodrome, but it seems like that will probably never happen.  Looks like my next step will either be commissioning a very talented frame builder to replicate the incredibly complex fork or seeing if I can find someone to recreate the bike entirely, which has been done.  Sadly, I am anything but made of money, so in the meantime I will have to repair the sad little cast iron fork and bide my time until I can get a legitimately rideable Takhion. 

Bummer. 

20120307

Thanks Consumer Reports

I was reading the latest issue of Consumer Reports, and came upon this list of what annoys drivers the most.  

At least we're mildly less annoying than a loud radio.

We're lower on the list of annoyances, sure, but it would have been nice of CR had put a note in there saying that taking the lane is legal, and often times "bicyclists who don't let you by" are just trying to safely get from point A to point B.  No, I'm not trying to be a dick by taking the lane, I swear I'm just trying to get to work, and sorry for delaying you by the ten seconds it takes to merge over and pass me.  

That's my rant.  It's short today, as I am tired.

I moved the distance counter over to the left, and also added a search by tags thing, so you can filter out my rants and just look at the pretty pictures. 

20120306

On Bollards

I was out on a ride this weekend with my eventual goal being to acquire groceries, but mainly just because it was a lovely weekend here and I wanted to get out, enjoy the weather, and just ride.  And that part was nice, the just riding bit.  Then I got to the part where I remembered that I needed to support my food addiction, and I knew there was a Trader Joes nearby.  Supposedly, there was also an "exit" off The Strand towards TJs.  Awesome, fantastic, etc.  What I didn't know was that said exit had something like a fifteen percent grade.  I'll get to that later.  Fifteen percent grade exit dropped me off on a street that led straight to a nice little plaza with flowers and lots of places to sit and a Jamba Juice and an ice cream shop and and a coffee shop the aforementioned Trader Joes...

But not one.  Single.  Bike rack.  

None.  Nada.  

Okay, first of all: you've got this wonderful bike path that goes along the ocean that is packed every weekend with people riding.  And that's awesome, I love to see that.  Then, you've got this close little plaza with places to stop and get a snack, or ice cream, or whatever floats your boat.  Cool.  But not only does it suddenly become daunting for the average weekend rider to get off the path to get here due to that crazy fifteen percent grade - something that, I dunno, most beach cruisers can't handle - but if the entire family does manage to hike their bikes up that ridiculously steep hill, they have nowhere to safely put their bikes when they want to stop and get the kids ice cream. 

I sat outside watching the bikes whilst my cycling cohort went in and got groceries.  I had really wanted some frozen yogurt, but my only real option was one of these:

The saddest part was the few bikes in the plaza were "locked" to these.
So I remained next to my bike, sitting in this lovely area (that was sadly quite empty for such a beautiful Saturday evening), and getting pissed that I had no way to go get ice cream.  Though I did watch as people stopped by this area with bikes, looked around in confusion, then defeat, then either slowly road away or decided "screw it, I'll lock it to a bollard."  And then they did. I also saw a man walk out of Trader Joes, take a look at one of these "locked" bikes, look around, notice me, then sulk off.  Wow. 

Really, it wasn't like there was no room for bike parking.  First of all, there were at least 24 of those stupid bollards that the city could swap out for these: 

Image via Kay Park Recreation
Bam, problem solved. 

Also, did I mention that this plaza was empty?  Even though the beach with all of these people was right next to this place?  

Here's my solution.  Swap out the bollards for bike-lockable bollards, at least.  Better yet, swap some, and put in some legitimate bike racks.  Then, put a sign on The Strand next to that crazy steep exit advertising to people that their beloved decaf mocha tea latte whatever drink is only mere steps away!  Once people know they have access to it and have a nice place to put their bikes, more people will come.  Portland has proved the benefits of this.  And hey, once people start noticing it, perhaps the issue of super steep exit can be addressed so that less experienced riders don't have to hike their bikes.  There is plenty of room for a much more gradual exit which would not only make getting off the Strand easier, but also re-entering a lot safer. 

Perhaps in the great scheme of things for Redondo Beach, this isn't that big of an issue.  But I still plan to write to the city about it.  Look at Hermosa Beach - tons of bike parking and the Strand basically goes through the downtown area, and that place is booming.  Perhaps you can learn from this, Redondo?

2012 Distance Count: 344.4 Miles | 554.3 Kilometers

20120305

Nothing!

I've got nothing for you regarding NAHBS, so I suggest that today, for anyone out there who is reading this blog, you take a look at my sidebar of inspiration and check out some of the bloggers that did cover NAHBS.  Because, damn.

I can give you this neat article though!

Photo from the aforementioned neat article  

I can also give you a photo of a bike pile I came across while riding this weekend.  They're locked up like that.  Yeah...

An entire group of people thought this was a good idea.  Really.
Anyway, I'm done.  Seriously, go check out some NAHBS coverage.  So far it's pretty awesome!

2012 Distance Count: 344.4 Miles | 554.3 Kilometers

20120302

No NAHBS for me

Sometime during the period where I was a starving and sleepless art student in college, some sort of metamorphoses occurred unbeknownst to me that made getting plane tickets a nightmarish excursion.  Before when I traveled, going online and getting tickets wasn't so bad, nor too expensive, usually.  Now that I am no longer a starving student and have the desire to go places, it's turned into the worst video game I've ever played.  My point here is, after scouring the internet, countless bargain sites, and even trying to change my miles, I could not for the life of me find a ticket back home for anything less than $360...before taxes.

Now, don't get me wrong - NAHBS seems like a cool thing that would be a great experience, but I would like to have a little money left to actually potentially spend at NAHBS itself.  Also, it would be nice to eat this weekend. 

So sadly, I won't be attending NAHBS as I previously thought I might.  Instead, I will sit at home drinking coffee probably spiked with something and fuming while I scroll through various blog posts of the lucky people who do get to fly to Sacramento and see all of the beautiful bikes that will be on display.  

Oh well.  At least I'll get to work on my previously mentioned Nishiki Ultimate.

See guys it *does* exist!

Go ride your bike this weekend.

2012 Distance Count: 337 Miles | 542.4 Kilometers

20120301

Commanding

I have a thing for weird things.  And it gets me in trouble sometimes, because I enjoy novelties far more than I really should.  It's one of the reasons my bikes are all fairly unique and I wear shoes with toes on them and I enjoy drinks like a Pirate's Chai Latte.  In my defense though, I'm not one of those people who convinces everyone that they like these things because they want to be weird and different, I'm one of those people that just plain is weird and different (said sounding a least hipster as I possibly can).

At some point, I came across Suntour's Command Shifters, which were a precursor to brifters and released to be compatible with the Accushift system.  They were quite well made, worked nicely, and were ergonomic, but alas, they faded when Suntour did.

What is this madness??  Image via Velobase.
I became intrigued, not only because these were inherently different than the downtube shifters I've come to know and love (don't you dare judge me) but also because I spend a lot of time on the hoods.  And by a lot I mean all of it.   It's actually the main reason I decided to go for pursuit bars on the District, which is a decision that I am fanatically happy with.  People keep telling me that if I'm not spending time in the drops I'm doing it wrong, but being in the drops feels strange to me, even if the bike supposedly fits me to a tee.  I like hoods, and being able to shift from them...I had to get my hands on these.

Image via The Vintage Fuji, since mine aren't set up yet but I was excited and wanted to write about them.

Being that Suntour was fantastic, they have both Friction and Indexed modes that were compatible with six and seven speed derailleurs.  Although I have seen these few times in the wild, people seem to like them, and think that they work well.  

What's my point?  These are going on the Nishiki Ultimate that I'm building that I can't even provide a decent link for, because that particular bike was never actually catalogued.  I'm going to test them and see for myself just how much shifting from the hoods will change my life forever.  Not counting brifters, at least.  I tried brifters, and while I could get used to them given enough time, the way I climb hills involves me muscling the hoods up the hill, during which with brifters I found myself awkwardly shifting all over the place while swearing in a few different languages. 

Image via dcBikes.

Truth be told, the Nishiki is coming along rather well.  I plan on having it be my racing bike, and by racing I mean going-fast-when-I-ride-with-friends-on-the-weekends bike.  I have the command shifters and break levers on the handlebars, and have a rear derailleur that I could hook the right one up to, which would be neat, but doesn't do me too much good without a freewheel quite yet. 

Thus I conclude my Thursday ramblings of command shifters, and promise to return at some point with actual photos of my shifters, as well as good experiences involving shifting, unlike the brifter hill climbing experience, which went something like:

Click "AHHH NO" click "SHIT" clickclick "STOP IT" click "FUCK" clickclickclick "OH GOD WHY" click.

Click.

2012 Distance Count: 337 Miles | 542.4 Kilometers